County of Residence: Allegheny
Preferred Pronouns: her/she
How do you describe your identity? Cis-Female, BiSexual Woman
Please describe your coming out experience. Where did you find support? What challenges did you face? Initially, I only came out to my close friends as Bi, as it was the early 2000s, and “girls kissing girls” was obnoxiously “in fashion” at the time. Prior to that, in college (late 90s), I was the person that many gay and lesbian friends came out to first. I received nothing but hugs, support and love from all of them. The challenge I faced was my soon-to-be-ex boyfriend at the time, who was exceedingly judgmental, and informed me that it was a phase.
How would you describe yourself NOW in terms of “being out”? As a hetero-married woman, I have the privilege of passing as straight in most situations, but I always correct someone when they presume that I am straight. Currently, I am in a position to be an ally and support system to LGBTQIA youth at my job as a faculty/staff member of a university.
Tell me about the first LGBTQ person whom you met. What impact did they have on your life? My Aunt Beth. Beth meant, and still means, the absolute world to me. She is a professional mentor to me as we work in the same field. She is a major part of my family support system.
Past or present, favorite LGBTQ character or creator in television, film or literature? Please tell us why. Jack Harkness – Doctor Who. This character is unashamedly omnisexual, and he helped me explain to my Mother how I see myself.
How do you stay informed about LGBTQ issues? I follow a lot of Facebook pages that keep me informed about LGBTQI issues.
Describe your geographical community. Current: Urban – Accepting
Past (growing up): Suburban – Mixture
Past (young adult): Rural – Utterly Anti
Describe your local or regional LGBTQ community. I am not directly active in these communities locally, so I don’t have much to say about them.
Have you ever experienced discrimination based on your identity? Specifically, in a job setting, when applying for housing or while in public. No.
Are there issues impacting your LGBTQ neighbors that aren’t visible or part of the local dialogue? My primary concern are homeless LGBTQIA youth.
What would you like to see elected officials do to improve life for LGBTQ Pennsylvanians? Pass an anti-discrimination law.
Please share a lived experience, anecdote or fact about life as an LGBTQ person in your community. Recently, I had a bisexual student confide in me about her family’s problems with her bisexuality. It felt so good to be able to act as a confidant and advice source for such an inspiring young woman.
Beyond discrimination, what other barriers create challenges for your LGBTQ neighbors? Fear.
What LGBTQ friendly resources are available for your neighbors? PFLAG
What is your greatest fear for the LGBTQ community in Western Pennsylvania? homelessness
What is your greatest hope for the LGBTQ community in Western Pennsylvania? Eradication of Homelessness and the passing of an Anti-Discrimination law.
What can allies do to support your LGBTQ community? Call your elected officials and demand legislation to support us.
How can gay men and lesbians support the bisexual, transgender and queer members of our community? Do not dismiss us.
What motivated you to take part in this project? Bi-Sexual erasure.
Finally, what question should I have asked? Please also share your answer. Can’t think of one.
Thank you, Erin.
Read the entire AMPLIFY LGBTQ Q&A archive.
AMPLIFY LGBTQ is a new occasional series of blog posts designed to give a “signal boost” to the voices of our LGBTQ neighbors throughout Western Pennsylvania. We are using a Q&A format and will minimize editing their responses. The questions, however, may change as we ask each participant to tell us what we’ve missed asking. It is one of the vibrant elements of a blog format – evolution & growth.
Our intent is to highlight the voices of marginalized members of our community who are not always invited to the table or whose voices are not heard (because “we” are not listening?) Obviously, my choice of questions does shape the conversation, but beyond that – these are glimpses in to the lived experiences of LGBTQ people in Western Pennsylvania as told in their own voices. If you would like to participate, please email me pghlesbian at gmail or visit the online Q&A.